Lessons from life. In a life lived ill, doing the wrong thing doesn't always turn out wrong.
Saving: "Without a pension, I really don't know what I shall do." That was an ad when I was growing up. So, in the 1980s I started putting money aside in a Sun savings plan. It was going to grow at 15 or 20 per cent a year.
After 10 years, I'd £7,000 saved, no mean feat. Then there was an emergency and I asked for the pot – about £20,000 I calculated – to be cashed up. They gave me £6,800. After a decade of saving in an economic boom I got back slightly less than I'd put in. I said something rude and vowed I'd never save again. Now we see decent people who've put lifelong money into an endowment to pay off their mortgages, and they're suffering immense shortfalls.
Meanwhile, sceptics who saved cash in their own bank accounts – they are getting almost nothing back in interest. Investment incomes have plummeted from useful highs to insignificant lows. And then to complete the misery, there will come a hyper-inflation that will destroy their savings altogether. What else?
Recycling: I don't feel entirely comfortable with this delinquency as I don't like waste going to waste. But you can only do so much. The council sent round their recycling boxes with instructions as to what went where. I'm not good with these new lists. I got short of breath. I remembered my relations with the council and their revenue-raising activities round my way.
When they came to the part saying it was paper in one bin and envelopes in another, I went, "Life's too short" and took all my stuff to the tip and threw it in the household skip. Now we see that some councils are putting it all in landfill sites anyway. Then again, if they do a better thing and send unsorted waste to India, it gives employment to people who need it.
Healthy living: There's always been something about the tone or manner or nature of health advice that didn't chime with the claimed intent. You can almost believe what you want. Studies say that red wine halves the risk of cancer, or doubles it. That alcohol causes dementia, or prevents it. That it's a life extender, or a life shortner. It's a lucky dip.
But the number of recommended alcohol units has been falling inexorably since the idea of units was invented. If you consume, oooh, 100 units a week, you get some quite judgmental looks. That's the only constant.
A hundred units is probably a bit much, but I find it better than abstinence. When I gave up alcohol entirely for a couple of years I wanted to die.
It was the boredom. The undifferentiated day. The watchfulness. Perpetual sobriety simply doesn't suit some people. It would definitely be a life shortner in my case. So when reports came through last week that two glasses of wine a day increases a woman's chance of breast cancer by 12 per cent ... I decided not to believe it. I know nothing about statistics, or epidemiological research, or cancer – but I just don't believe it. Maybe it's the researchers or maybe it's the news editor that reported it. But I'll bet my whole life savings that it's baloney. Anyway, I've decided to be one of those people who live as long as they want by doing what they like.Reuse content